CHICAGO — A 13-acre stretch of vacant land in Pullman will soon be turned into a new park that will include the biggest public sports facility in the city.
The Chicago Park District board on Wednesday agreed to eventually take over the property at 10355 S. Woodlawn Ave. after a community developer builds the $20 million facility.
The park will include a 135,000-square-foot sports facility that will house three turf fields striped for soccer, football, baseball and lacrosse. It will also have three volleyball/basketball courts, four batting cages and kitchen and retail space, according to the Park District.
More sports fields could be built outside the field house, parks officials said.
Pullman-based Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Inc. owns the property and is spearheading the effort to turn the former brownfield into the new park and field house.
The new facility will likely open in September 2017, said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who spoke in favor of the project at Wednesday's park board meeting.
"It'll be a massive building. There's nothing like this in the region," Beale said. "The community is really excited."
The project will have a unique funding and operating structure, at least for seven years.
The field house and its surrounding grounds will be built and owned by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit developer that is leading the fundraising effort.
After it is built, the Roseland Youth Center will operate the building, though the Park District will help with programming and advertising, Park District Supt. Michael Kelly said.
After seven years, the building and surrounding property will be turned over to the Park District and renamed.
"You'll get a $20 million facility that won't cost the Park District a dime," Beale said.
Much of the funding for the project is coming from the state [$5 million] and from the sale of federal tax credits [$6 million], said Angelica Marks, vice president of real estate for Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. The remaining funds will come from a partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority and from foundations and businesses like the Chicago Cubs, who have signed on as a sponsor, Marks said.
The board on Wednesday gave the city the go-ahead to negotiate the terms of the agreement with Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. Board members will be asked to ratify the agreement at a later meeting.
Though the facility will act as a regional draw for all young athletes, Beale said the main benefit to the area will be its potential impact on at-risk kids.
"Keeping kids out of the streets, that's the main goal," Beale said.
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